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And Baby- Ch. 5
And Baby Makes Four
By Samantha Quinn
All disclaimers in Part I.
Prelude to Battle
“A navy?” inquired Jennair. “What exactly is a navy?”
Malcolm stared at the man a moment. *How could you observe humans well enough to know our language perfectly but not have any concept of their navy?*
Out loud he explained, “A navy is a fleet of ships for the sea.”
//Ah, the young lieutenant comes from a long line of service men// Jennair noted to the Captain.
//Determine the precise nature of this navy.// instructed Nantuck.
“We do not have any such equivalent on our world,” explained Jennair to the disbelieving Malcolm. “Our seas are not quite large enough for a fleet, I suppose. What purpose does a naval fleet hold?”
“They are primarily a defense measure.”
“Then this navy. . . is an aggressive force?”
“It can be-when the goal is to defend and something or someone is interfering in the safety of their target,” replied Malcolm, feeling the ever so familiar strain of both pride and agitation at his family heritage.
//He claims this navy is a defensive measure. . . but I sense it can be a violent organization as well.// relayed Jennair to his C.O.
//Excellent. Discover his weakness.//
“If you do not find it intrusive, Lieutenant, may I inquire something of your relationships with fellow crewmembers?” Jennair asked politely.
Malcolm bristled with the thought. “It depends on the nature of your inquiry,” he replied briskly.
“I merely have noticed your Captain’s tendency to address you by first name and tendencies among the crew to repeat such actions. Is this type of . . . fraternization common among human crews?”
“Not in the navy,” came Malcolm’s automatic response. Then he added, “The laws regarding fraternization are left up to the Captain to determine. Captain Archer takes a somewhat more laid back approach.” *Too bloody laid back, sometimes* Malcolm finished silently.
//Finding a weakness may be difficult, Captain. This one is tough both physically and mentally. He believes in strict regimentation of lifestyle.//
//All humans have weaknesses. He must. Even the Vulcan female does and we know they are little more than walking computers.// noted Nantuck with venom that would have surprised his company, had they been able to hear it.
“Hmm . . . I find friendships to be somewhat disruptive at times to the security protocol . Friendship ideology can be distracting, I have found,” Jennair smiled at the agreement he sensed in Malcolm. //Foolish human//
//Now, now, Jennair, you must not be so critical of them. They are after all, not responsible for their own inferiority.// criticized the Doctor.
//I suppose not. But it does not change the fact that . . . hmmm.. . . intriguing.//
//What?// inquired Nantuck.
//The lieutenant is having a memory . . . he is on a shuttle pod, hunched in a blanket sitting next to Commander Tucker.//
//Why is he on the shuttle pod?//demanded Lyceum.
//It is difficult to ascertain. They believe death to be imminent . . . are making their farewells . . . sharing their alcohol . . . I believe the lieutenant considers Tucker to be a friend./
//Commander Tucker? Did we not determine him to be a weakness for the Vulcan as well?// asked Nantuck.
//Yes, we did. Intriguing that they share a similar weak spot.//
//All the better for us.// agreed his Captain.
“No,” Jennair remarked kindly. “Some friendships are very good indeed.”
//What is your analysis of the engineer?// asked Jennair of Sodan.
//I find him highly annoying with a strange capacity to discuss irrelevant factors.// replied Sodan.
//Irrelevant? He is an engineer. Have you not found common ground?//
//No. Our technology is much more advanced than theirs, after all.//
“It’s real interestin’ that you guys only eat meat, Sodan,” Trip mentioned, oblivious to the close scrutiny his character was receiving.
“Interesting? In what way, Commander?”
“Well, the Vulcans for example, they’re all vegetarians. I’ve met other vegetarians before, but no other meat eaters only.”
“Gabbaccians are not Vulcans, Commander,” Sodan made his statement a bit more harshly than he had intended.
“Do you have somethin’ against the Vulcans?” Trip asked his engineering colleague. There was just as much edge to his voice as there had been to Sodan’s only moments before.
“No, Commander, I do not.”
“That’s good . . . cuz they aren't all bad, ya know. Hell, I’ve been frustrated with some of ‘em before, but if knowin’ T’Pol’s done anything, it’s taught me that I’ve been entirely too ethnocentric in my thinkin’ towards the Vulcans.”
“I see. She is your friend, then?”
“Yep. In fact, all of the Enterprise crew members in this room are.”
//Fascinating.// noted Jennair.
//You have a strange fixation with that word, Jennair. What do you find ‘fascinating’ this time? Or fascinatin’, as my dear friend Commander Tucker would say?//
//The man’s capacity to care . . . I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it in all our travels.// remarked Jennair.
“You have seemed somewhat quiet this evening, Dr. Aron,” observed the Denobulan physician. “Are you ill?”
“No, not at all, Dr. Phlox. I simply enjoy watching cultural interactions more than I enjoy taking an active role in them,” the physician noted.
“Ah, yes. Cultural interaction is one of the biggest draws to working in space,” Phlox remarked cheerfully. “The interactions are secondary only to my ability as a physician to heal the injured in the list of things I enjoy.”
*Then I envy you on both accounts.* thought Dr. Aron to himself.
Archer paused in his conversation with Nantuck. “Excuse me, Captain,” he said apologetically. “Go ahead, Ensign.”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but there’s a ship that um, just appeared in front of us.”
Archer could hear the hesitation in the helmsman’s voice. “Ship’s don’t just ‘appear’, Travis,” he reminded Mayweather.
“I realize that, Sir, but this one did. I don’t know quite how to explain it.”
“Have you identified them?”
“They have identified themselves as the Suliban. The good news is that they insist they have no interest in us, but sensors indicate they have aimed their weapons towards the Gabbaccian ship.”
“Understood. Archer out. Sorry to cut this dinner short, gentlemen, but I have to get to the bridge. It seems our enemies will prevent us from enjoying whatever dessert Chef cooked up.”
“But Captain, your ship isn’t under any danger. There is no need for you to interrupt your food consumption. We will fly back to our ship in our shuttle pod.”
“The Suliban would be able to destroy you easily in a shuttle pod,” Malcolm pointed out.
Archer nodded, for once in agreement with his armory officer. “They’ll be outnumbered if your ship and mine join forces, however,” he told them.
Nantuck nodded, as they began to head for the bridge. “Your kindness is most extraordinary, Captain Archer. I thank you for your assistance.”
“There’s no need to thank me, Nantuck. After all, we’re allies. Friends,” Archer responded.
“And as friends we give each other help whenever the other needs it,” Trip told them as they stepped onto the turbo lift.
//And you shall assist us in an even greater capacity later, Commander Tucker.// thought Nantuck. His Gabbaccian companions shared a mental laugh, unheard by the Enterprise crew.
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